Daily minor league curtain call: Shelby Miller flashing superb control

Promotions have been the biggest story of late around the minor leagues. Among the more notable ones were Rangers’ first round pick Joey Gallo getting bumped up to short-season Spokane after setting the AZL single-season record with 18 home runs over 43 games. Gallo went 0-for-3 with a walk in his debut tonight. Cubs’ first round pick, Albert Almora, got a promotion to short-season Boise after hitting .347 over 18 games with the AZL Cubs with 13 RBI and five stolen bases. And just like he did in the AZL, he hit a home run in his debut with Boise on Wednesday. Here are the top-ten performances from Thursday, August 16:

Shelby Miller has 38 strikeouts to just one walk over his last 35.2 innings. (Chris Lee photo clee@post-dispatch.com)

10. Mike Zunino, the third-overall pick by the Mariners this year, went 3-for-3 with a double, walk and RBI for double-A Jackson. The 6’-1”, 215-pound catcher is now 4-for-9 in his first three games since being promoted three levels from short-season Everett after hitting .373 over 29 games with ten doubles, ten home runs, 35 RBI and a .736 SLG.

9. Richie Shaffer, the 25th-overall selection in this year’s draft, waited until three hours before the deadline to sign with the Rays. Both sides’ patience has been rewarded as the 6’-3”, 215-pound right-hander has been displaying his enormous power that made him one of the top power bats available in the draft. He went 3-for-4 on Thursday with a home run, two RBI and a walk for short-season Hudson Valley, and is now hitting .308 with three home runs and ten RBI over his first 15 games. At Clemson, he hit .327 with 40 doubles, 28 home runs, 129 RBI and a 1.080 OPS over 152 career games with 107 walks, displaying a great approach at the plate along with all the power.

8. Padres prospect, Jedd Gyorko, doesn’t have anything left to prove on the offensive side in the minors. After going 3-for-4 with a double, home run and three RBI for Tucson, he is now hitting .339 with 23 doubles, 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 75 games at triple-A. Last season, he hit .333 with 47 doubles, 25 home runs, 114 RBI and a .952 OPS over 140 games split across two levels.

7. Rangers’ prospect, Barret Loux, won his 14th game of the season for double-A Frisco, allowing one run over seven innings with seven strikeouts to no walks. The 6’-5”, 215-pound right-hander is now 14-1 with a 3.38 ERA and 91 K/35 BB over 117.1 innings. Loux was drafted by the Diamondbacks in 2010 with the sixth-overall pick but was declined a contract when he failed a physical. He signed with the Rangers as a free agent five months later. Over 109 innings last year, he struck out 127 batters while allowing just 34 walks. Loux has a plus change-up to go along with a low-90s fastball and curve.

6. Kyle Zimmer, the fifth-overall selection by the Royals in this year’s draft out of San Francisco, tossed seven shutout innings, allowing seven hits while striking out three to two walks in picking up the win for class-A Kane County. The 6’-3”, 215-pound right-hander, who didn’t start pitching until college, has a 3.04 ERA over seven starts with 36 K/5 BB over 26.2 innings. After giving up six runs over two innings on July 31, he has allowed just one run over his last 17.2 innings.

5. Javier Baez, the Cubs top prospect, went 3-for-4 with a double, home run and three RBI for class-A advanced Daytona. Over 66 games this year, the 19-year old shortstop is now hitting .312 with 12 doubles, five triples, 13 home runs, 40 RBI, 21 stolen bases and a .920 OPS. The only knock on him has been his approach at the plate, as he has only drawn 11 walks to 58 strikeouts. Baez was the ninth-overall selection in the 2011 draft out of Arlington County Day HS after hitting .771 (64-for-83) his senior season with 20 doubles, six triples, 22 home runs, 52 RBI, 28 stolen bases and a slash line of .835/1.952/2.787. He also drew 32 walks to just three strikeouts.

4. Cardinals’ top pitching prospect, Shelby Miller, continued his recent run of supreme control by striking out seven to just one walk over six innings for triple-A Memphis. He allowed three runs and picked up his ninth win of the season. Over his last 35.2 innings, he has now struck out 38 batters to just one walk. The 21-year old is a 6’-3”, power right-hander whose fastball can reach the upper-90s along with a potential plus curveball.

3. Gerrit Cole, the first-overall pick by the Pirates in 2011 out of UCLA, struck out nine over six innings for double-A Altoona. He allowed one run and walked none in picking up his eighth win of the year. Over 23 starts, he has a 2.82 ERA and 121 K/34 BB over 115 innings. The 6’-4”, 220-pound right-hander gets comparisons to Roger Clemens because of his size, demeanor on the mound and upper-90s fastball. He also adds a plus slider and change-up and should be the ace of the Pirates staff very soon.

2. Keury De La Cruz, a non-drafted free agent signee out of the Dominican Republic by the Red Sox in 2009, went 3-for-5 with a pair of home runs and seven RBI for class-A Greenville. The 5’-11”, 170-pound left-hander has been flashing big time offensive potential this season, hitting .316 with 32 doubles, eight triples, 18 home runs, 77 RBI and 16 stolen bases over 103 games. The power is a bit of a surprise as the 20-year old had hit 13 home runs over 189 games coming into this year.

1. A’s prospect, Conner Crumbliss, had himself a day on Thursday. The 5’-8”, 175-pound left-hander, who came into the game with 19 home runs over 436 career games, went 3-for-4 with three home runs and seven RBI for double-A Midland. On the season, the 25-year old is now hitting .255 over 111 games with eight home runs, 43 RBI and 23 stolen bases. He has also drawn 103 walks, and over his career, has drawn an incredible 385 walks over 436 games. To put that in perspective, His 0.883 walks per game is better than Ted Williams’ 0.882 and Barry Bonds’ 0.857.

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